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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

48                                UFE   OF
feels at every step that lie is not on tlie boundary,
in the centre, of the torrid zone. He does not know
what charms him or excites his attention the most;
whether it is the calm repose of solitude, or the
"beauty of separate varying forms, or that force and
freshness of the vegetable life which distinguish tho
climate of the tropics. It seems as if the soil, covered
with vegetation, had not room enough for its deve-
lopment. Even the trunks of trees are overgrown
with a close green covering. If one would carefully
transplant the orchides, the pepper or potliOH-phintw,
which grow on a single locust-tree or on an American
fig-tree, one might cover a large tract of land. Tho
same creeping plants which grow on the earth., ascend
also the summits of the trees, and extend thoir
branches, a hundred feet from the ground, from one
tree to* the other."
How engrossingly and how variously must not tluwe
sights have impressed Hunaboldt's mind in tlutf groat
vault of vegetation., and how they nrust havo enriched
his mind with new unknown, forms of nature ! Hero
for the first time he admired the bottle-shaped, artis-
tically-formed nest of the Oxiola, the thrush-like bird,
whose somewhat hoarse cry is so penetrating that it
is heard above the sound of gushing waterfalls* On
this excursion he saw the monastic life of tho hero'
existing mission, whose old prior smiled superciliously
at Humboldt's research^, experiments, instruments,
and dry plants, and maintained that of all tho plea-
sures of life, not excepting sleep, none could bo
compared with the relish of a good piece of rotiwt
beef.
Humboldt wandered with his friend Bonplaud fur-
ther to the Ouchivano ravine on a path 'rendered
unsafe by jaguars (American tigers). MamoB arc
emitted from this ravine, and this led Humboldt to
interesting observations on volcanic phenomena and
on earthquakes. The inhabitants of the district ulm>
made curious communications and prophecies on the
increase of earthquakes in this region and in the pro-